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Music

PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.

PopMatters Picks is the new Spotify playlist curated by me, the editor-in-chief of PopMatters. Every day I seek out the best new songs to share with PopMatters readers, and in this little mini-column, I'll provide a bit of background on the artists and songs featured. My aim is as wide as my genre tastes, with forward-looking music my primary focus, but that shall nestle cozily alongside tracks rooted in older styles and music performed with the utmost virtuosity also key to the mix. So, get that finger ready to hit play as we feature the PopMatters Picks of the day.

Rett Madison - "Kerosene"

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

West Virginia's Rett Madison possesses a powerful voice laden with emotional heft, and she deploys it masterfully on her latest single, "Kerosene". The Americana/folk artist's vocals are rich, capable of immense expression, and unique, which makes every one of her songs soar. Madison identifies as queer and that outsider status in her native South is what allows her to pen such searing lines on "Kerosene" as "you were raised on righteous love, I was brought up in a burning house." Madison is going places fast with songs this accomplished.

Everything and Everybody - "Lifequake"

Photo: Courtesy of the artist

Germany's Everything and Everybody are a funky, synthpop duo who also employ native German forms like Krautrock and motorik rhythms into their slinky pop tunes. "Lifequake" is the act's latest tune, and it plays with conceptions around gender identity while sporting some truly groovy beats and a colorful new video. The song plays out in a series of portraits, with each one ending with the question, "Are you a girl?" or "Are you a boy?"

Everything and Everybody say that "there's no valuation intended, it's more an invitation to questioning so-called female and male behavioral patterns, which are consciously or unconsciously, in any case unquestioningly accepted and passed on. The video for 'Lifequake' is intended to address this rather complex topic with great effortlessness. It's a colorful collage of short clips and pics, intensive and aesthetically appealing."

Jodie Nicholson - "Move"

England's Jodie Nicholson is a rising indie electropop talent with a mesmerizing sound that draws one fully into her world. "Move" is her latest single, and it's very firmly of the chillwave/downtempo ilk, but with a lusciously warm feel, rather like you are enmeshed in a cozy cocoon where you are most happy to remain. "Move" has a classic slow-build as elements are gently added, and yet a wonderful sense of minimalism is maintained.

"On the surface, its message is typical of a generic pop song, but as the track evolved in its creation, 'Move' has become a powerful symbol for taking a feeling and running with it. It's been an organic, impulse-driven song from the get-go and, in many ways, feels like an awakening," says Nicholson.

Folk Devils - "Ink Runs Dry"

Folk Devils are an original member of the first UK class of post-punk, forming in 1983 and working for four years, before disbanding in 1987, and then reforming in 2016. The West London band are back with the new single, "Ink Runs Dry", and Ladbroke Grove's finest haven't lost a step, as the tune features heavy guitar riffs and a twisted psych-rock/blues-rock massive wall of sound. The song appears on Folk Devils' new EP Forever that was released last Friday via Optic Nerve Recordings. An interesting bit of history is that Folk Devils were once managed by Ray Gange, the punk hanger-on in the Clash's Rude Boy film.

Baby FuzZ - "Before Our Time (feat. LP)"

Baby FuzZ is a pop maximalist that brings to mind Mika and the glam rock of Queen, as he throws his all into every tune that's laden with hooks galore and the most insanely catchy choruses. In this era of more minimalist pop, Baby FuzZ stands defiant as a defender or pure, syrupy, scrumptious little pop nuggets that just make you feel good. So good, in fact, you can even feel free to binge without expanding your waistline because you'll probably be bopping around the room, pumping your fists in the air to this tune.

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